Code is excited to host the No Hoodie Required meetup, which is dedicated to exposing the subtle gender biases in tech and helping companies build and maintain an inclusive culture that gives women and girls an image of tech they can relate to and be interested in. We sat down with Andrea Corrie, the founder of this meetup, to talk more about the group and how gender bias (mainly unintentional) affects women in tech. Please visit https://www.meetup.com/no-hoodie-required/ to learn more about No Hoodies Required and to see scheduled events.
How did you get started working in tech, and what are you currently working on?
My first tech job was actually when I was a senior in high school. I was in a program where I went to school half the day and worked the second half of the day, and was lucky enough to land a job working the IT help desk at Lockheed-Martin’s NASA headquarters in Houston. Since then, I’ve been a certified geek.
I currently work as a Technical Product Manager, working with engineering teams developing web platforms and APIs. (I’m still a geek)
What do you do for fun?
Anything outside. Snowboarding, hiking, biking. After being a lifelong mountain biker, I recently started road biking and I’m hooked!
You are starting a meetup called No Hoodie Required which is focused on promoting gender inclusivity in tech. Was there a specific experience or examples that made you want to bring this issue to the meetup community?
I have been in tech my entire career and the gender gap has always been a glaring issue. Today, we hear a lot about the ‘pipeline problem’ and the push by companies to hire more women. I am encouraged the industry is focusing on bridging the gap but what is missing in those conversations, in my opinion, is why there is a pipeline problem. Why are talented, science-minded women and aspiring girls turning away from careers in technology?
We see a lot of efforts focused on getting women and girls interested in STEM subjects, which is great, but in my experience, and the research backs this thought, women and girls are already interested in STEM, equaling their male counterparts.
From my perspective it’s not a lack of interest in tech, it’s a lack of interest in tech culture. That’s why I created the No Hoodie Required group. Bro-culture. Bro-hood. Hoodie culture. Tech today is far from a welcoming, inclusive environment for women. It is time to call out the subtle gender biases in tech that are undermining efforts to close the gender gap. Want more diversity in tech? Change the culture! I want No Hoodie Required to be a platform for that change.
What are the most common examples you see of unintentional gender bias?
Office design. Take a tour of any tech office today and you might think you wandered into a frat house. Heavy industrial design, dark walls, arcade rooms, foosball, kegerators...
Fashion. I actually like hoodies as much as the next person but there is definitely an unofficial dress code in tech, and fitting in with the culture usually means dressing like the tribe. I worked at a company that used hoodies as prizes for hackathons and employee merit awards, assuming this was ample motivation for hard engineering work. As a petite woman, a men’s size hoodie with a robot on it was less than thrilling.
Office activities. Majority gender usually wins here and the result is most of the planned ‘fun’ office activities tend to be inherently male focused. Fantasy card games, video game tournaments...
These may sound like petty examples, but put them together and you begin to see this is not painting the most inclusive picture for young girls and women thinking about a career in tech. Add to that stories of harassment and unequal pay and it’s clear why women are running in other (career) directions.
In a perfect world, what does full inclusivity look like?
That’s a great question that we need help answering! My grand vision for the No Hoodie group would include partnerships with office design firms, culture gurus... let’s look at where other industries have succeeded in creating a more balanced culture and start modeling after those success stories. Culture is a feedback loop. In tech the number of men far outweigh the number of women and the environment clearly reflects this. The goal is for everyone, regardless of race, gender, age, background, etc to feel welcome and included at the workplace.
What are the benefits to a company or team of promoting gender and racial inclusivity?
Countless studies show quantifiable benefits of having a diverse workforce but many companies treat the issue as a numbers game. (i.e. we need more women in our workforce) If companies focus their efforts on creating a more inclusive environment, they are showing a dedication to supporting a diverse workforce and this will naturally attract more diversity.
How can companies ensure females are considered for and move into leadership opportunities?
One big problem in tech today is the attrition rate for women. Recent numbers show more than half of women in tech leave the industry by the midpoint in their career, double the rate of men. This is a huge problem, especially when we’re talking about the need for women leaders in tech. The potential pipeline of women leaders are abandoning the industry before they have a chance to become leaders. I attribute a lot of this to an unwelcoming culture and it needs to change.
The pool of talent is a big factor as well. How can we get more females interested in STEM disciplines or other tech focused careers?
Change the culture! Ask young girls today to describe software engineers and they are likely imagining men in hoodies coding in a dark spaces. That’s a problem! Women and girls need to see a culture and role models they can relate to and be interested in before we will see an improvement in the pool of talent.
Let’s talk about the No Hoodie Required Meetup! What topics do you plan on discussing?
I am hoping we will discuss today’s tech culture, identify and debate where biases exist, and collaborate on how we can spark change. Let’s brainstorm how we can get tech companies to start taking notice of the environment and culture they are asking women to participate in and help them move toward a more inclusive mindset.
What is the format of this meetup going to be? (A speaker giving a presentation, multiple speakers/presentations, open forum, time to network before/after, etc)
All of the above! We will have monthly speakers, plenty of time for discussion and collaboration as well as networking.
Who should consider attending this meetup?
If you are in tech now, maybe you are considering a career in tech, or are just interested in how we can promote gender inclusivity in tech culture you should join us! Bring your thoughts, bring your stories, and let’s change the industry together!
When and Where can I join?
The first meetup is on Wednesday, November 20th in Denver at Code Talent. Please sign up for the meetup group and register for the event at meetup.com/no-hoodie-required
Is there anything else you’d like to add about gender inclusivity or the No Hoodie Required Meetup?
If you share a passion for changing how tech looks, please join us! We are looking for volunteers to speak at monthly meetups and and help with events in the Denver community. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.